Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 11/26 Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

The entire Board meeting can be viewed here.

First reading

Updating 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan 

The Board held a first reading on an updated 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan. The updated plan includes:

High School Facility Investments

  • Two new high schools - one located in northwest and one located in southeast Lincoln - with core facilities comparable to our existing high schools and space to serve 1,000 students. These new schools are planned to accommodate 2,000 students through future expansion. Each new high school will include space to accommodate a focus program.
  • At the six existing high schools, enhancements and renovations of specialized learning spaces: Arts, Family Consumer Sciences, Industrial Technology and Science.
  • New focus program facility modifications or enhancements as required to support programming at our existing high schools and program sites.
  • Additional athletic and activity facilities with the overall vision to include a football, track and baseball complex at the new northwest high school site, and a soccer and softball complex at the new southeast high school site. While the bond would include funding to begin work, additional partners will be needed to finish the complexes. In addition, an investment in turf at our existing high school sites.
  • High school site acquisition and development.

Middle School Facility Investments

  • Enhancements to address program deficiencies at six of our existing middle schools.  Projects will include additional physical education and multi-purpose spaces in schools currently short of square footage when compared to the school district standard.
  • Address capacity challenges at Scott Middle School with additional instructional space, along with addressing program deficiencies by adding a gym.
  • At the middle schools, enhancements and renovations of specialized learning spaces: Arts, Family Consumer Sciences, Industrial Technology and Science. 
  • Park Middle School Indoor Air Quality and Renovation.  

Elementary School Facility Investments

  • A new four-section PK-5 grade school in northeast Lincoln at the Waterford site (at approximately 102nd and Holdrege streets).
  • An addition at Wysong Elementary School to transition the school from a four-section school to a six-section school, adding capacity for the current population and growth.
  • An Early Childhood Center at Arnold Elementary School to serve pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. This will increase early childhood offerings in the area and create space for growth in our PK-5 student population.
  • Everett Elementary School Indoor Air Quality and renovation. Everett is the last elementary school to transition to the geothermal heating and cooling model.   

The 10-Year Facility and Infrastructure Plan also includes funds to acquire new school sites for future elementary and middle schools, along with addressing other school district infrastructure needs through depreciation funds. For example: 

  • The replacement of dated playground equipment
  • Roof recapping and replacements
  • Lighting upgrades
  • Bleachers
  • Family restrooms
  • Parking lot paving
  • Site modifications to enhance traffic flow 

Don Mayhew, chair of Board planning committee, commented, “There may not be many questions or comments tonight, but that is because so much work has already been done in the work sessions leading up to tonight’s meeting. I continue to be astounded at how this has coalesced into a cohesive plan that makes sense to a lot of people. There might be individual line items on the plan that individual Board members might want to do a little bit differently, but I think, though, that this plan represents excellent compromise, collaboration and communication.” 

Bond resolution 

The Board held a first reading on a resolution proposing a bond issue of $290 million to be decided by voters during a special election on Feb. 11, 2020. Based on analysis and finance models, this amount is expected to stay within the current bond and building fund levy. A second reading and action will take place at the Dec. 10 regular Board meeting.

Kathy Danek, chair of the Board finance committee said, “We do have an opportunity in two weeks to ask more questions. So if the community has questions that they feel were not answered, feel free to contact Board members.”

Land purchases 

There were two land purchase agreements up for first reading at Tuesday’s meeting. There will be a second reading followed by a vote by the Board at its Dec. 10 meeting. The two properties — one in northwest Lincoln and the other in southeast Lincoln — would be large enough for the construction of new high schools, along with athletic complexes as identified by the proposed updated 10-year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan.

Those properties are:

  • Ringneck, LLC: 118.6 acres for approximately $5.8 million that stretches from approximately Northwest 48th to Northwest 56th streets and West Holdrege to West Vine streets.
  • Ag Invest, LLC: 143.7 acres for approximately $3.6 million that sits east of 70th Street and north of Saltillo Road.

“With the high schools, I think having specific sites identified just helps the voters and public be that much more informed about what we are proposing with the bond,” said Lincoln Board of Education President Lanny Boswell. “Enrollment growth at the high school level over the last couple of years and projected over the next couple of years has been so incredible that it is clearly one of the highest needs that the advisory committee identified. We are well positioned with these proposals to meet the highest needs that have been identified by our community.”

Bus purchase 

The Board held a first reading on a proposal to purchase five wheelchair school buses with 3-point safety belts for use by the Transportation Department. The buses will be replacements to the fleet. The Board will hold a second reading and vote at the December meeting. 

American Airlines Flight Education Grant 

LPS recognizes the need for aviation study at the high school level, as the demand in this field will increase significantly in the near future. Lincoln Public Schools has been invited to apply for the American Airlines Flight Education Grant, funded by American Airlines. Only schools utilizing the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) High School Aviation STEM Curriculum are invited to apply. Last summer, LPS sent a North Star teacher to this training on first-year curriculum, two courses called Launching into Aviation and Exploring Aviation. These courses are now offered at North Star, with 36 and 19 students in each, respectively. Training on second-year curriculum will be attended next summer so North Star can offer additional courses, with the intent to continue training for a third year of curriculum the following year. Due to the timeline for the grant, the board waived the second reading and voted to approve the grant application.

Second reading and action

New policy on Sustainability 

The Board approved policy 3905 on Sustainability to serve as a guideline and commitment to responsible stewardship to sustainability goals. Staff and the Board recognize the impact that district activities have on the natural environment and on the health and well-being of students, employees and the community.  

Revise current policy on Student Activities 

The Board approved a revision of policy 6700 to include the addition of Unified Track as a new activity. Unified Track was sanctioned by the Nebraska School Activities Association in the fall of 2019, and LPS staff completed a review of Unified Track. The first season for LPS Unified Track will take place during the spring of 2020. 

Staff celebrations

LPS celebrated three staff members for recently winning national awards.

Alicia Davis, math instructor at Scott Middle School, and Rochelle Settles, science instructor at Fredstrom Elementary School

Alicia Davis and Rochelle Settles were recently honored with Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching by the National Science Foundation. This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science teaching. The National Science Foundation administers the award, which recognizes those teachers who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. 

April Jorgensen, library media services instructor at Schoo Middle School

April Jorgensen was recently awarded National Education Association Foundation Global Learning Fellowship. Each year, the NEA Foundation awards NEA Global Learning Fellowships to one K-12 educator from each state. The goal of the fellowship is to help educators develop instructional methods to equip students for global citizenship in the 21st century. 

Click here to watch the complete staff celebrations.

Special reports

United Way campaign update 

Tonight the Board heard an update on the annual staff United Way giving campaign. Staff raised approximately $126,379 for United Way. The Board recognized the top schools in total dollar contributions and any school or department that had a 65% or more participation rate. 

Top five elementary schools:

  • Clinton
  • McPhee
  • Zeman
  • Belmont
  • Huntington

Top two middle schools:

  • Lefler
  • Pound

Top two high schools:

  • North Star
  • East

Schools and departments with 100% participation:

  • Fredstrom 
  • Superintendent's office
  • Government Relations
  • TeamMates

Other schools and departments with 65% or greater:

  • Beattie
  • Clinton
  • Don D. Sherrill Education Center
  • Federal Programs
  • Science Focus Program
  • Huntington
  • Kloefkorn
  • Morley
  • Payroll
  • Roper
  • Zeman 

Click here to watch the full presentation.

Glimpses of LPS

Kooser Elementary School 

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms. Tonight’s video gave us a peek into a Kooser first-grade classroom and Heggerty Phonemic Awareness. View the video here.

LPS LIVE: Board Preview

New High School Sites

Before every Board of Education meeting Don Mayhew previews topics of interest with special guests. The Lincoln Board of Education will consider two land purchases during upcoming meetings. The two properties — one in northwest Lincoln and the other in southeast Lincoln — would be large enough for the construction of new high schools, along with athletic complexes as identified by the proposed updated 10-year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan. 

Land acquisition is an extensive process and Lincoln Public Schools is consistently investing in properties throughout the city that will position the school district well for continued growth. 

Sharing more about that process is Scott Wieskamp, director of operations. View the full episode here.

Published: November 26, 2019, Updated: November 26, 2019